WHS swimmers begin week unbeaten

NORTHAMPTON – When the Westfield High School swim program returns to its home pool this Tuesday against Longmeadow at 4 p.m., it will be as a Western Massachusetts unbeaten.
The Westfield boys’ and girls’ swim teams won at Northampton late Friday to remain undefeated. The boys were victorious 119-62; the girls defeated the Blue Devils, 102-84.
Friday’s meet proved to be Westfield’s toughest competition thus far this year. Bombers’ coach Tom Lewis ruminated throughout the week leading up to this meet, anticipating likely match-ups against a very talented team from Northampton and devising the best possible line up to capitalize on his team’s strengths.
Westfield attempted to seize the initiative early by dominating the first event, the 200-yard medley relay. In a thrilling race, Bombers’ “A” relay of Kelsey Johnstone, Erin Lewis, Genna Senecal and Jordan Jacobson, edged out the Northampton “A” relay. The Blue Devils avoided disaster by narrowly taking second from the fierce “B” relay of Kate McCabe, Hannah Plourde, Lauren Longley, and Hope Walsh.
Walsh and Longley recovered quickly and mustered the energy to take first and second in the next event – the 200-yard freestyle, beating Northampton’s Kerry Flemming and Miranda Wingfield. All four swimmers finished with state championship qualifying times in this race.
Northampton freshman phenom Erin Voss won the 200-yard individual medley to help keep the Blue Devils in the meet. Westfield’s Jacobson won the 50-yard freestyle in a very fast field with four of the six swimmers qualifying for states.
The girls’ diving completion was a thrill show with three of the best divers in Western Mass performing difficult dives with a combination of strength, skill and grace. Westfield’s Kelsey Veillette was not favored to win, but executed her six dives exceptionally well, overcame the Blue Devils “home board” advantage and won the event.
Swimming resumed with the 100-yard butterfly. Senecal and Longley took first and second in this event to essentially put the meet out of their opponent’s reach. Westfield’s Hope Walsh won the longest race of the day, the 500-yard freestyle. The Bombers went on to win the 200-yard freestyle relay with the team of Longley, Lewis, Senecal and Walsh.
Northampton swam very well in the 100-yard backstroke, taking first and second. Westfield’s Lewis won the 100-yard breaststroke. Five of the six girls in this race turned in state qualifying times.
The Westfield coaches were quick to point out that if any one of their girls had dropped just one place in each of the individual events, Northampton would have won this hard fought meet.
The Westfield boys’ swim team faced some excellent swimmers from Northampton, including Colin Machat, Aidan Winn and diver Elias Miller, but in the end, the Bombers proved to be equally brilliant.
Westfield won its share of events and also fielded a much deeper lineup of strong swimmers, taking most of the second, third and fourth place finishes. The Bombers set the tone in the first event, taking first and second places in the 200-yard medley relay with the teams of – John Dolan, Matt LaBombard, Jim Stinehart, and Chris Tu; and Matt Jacobson, Patrick Monette, Tim Kwarcinski and Ian Canty.
LaBombard recovered from his leg of the sprint relay quickly and won the next event, the 200-yard freestyle. Teammate Tim Kwarcinski followed suit, winning the 200-yard individual medley with a blistering time of 2:03.88.
The most intense event of the meet, the 50-yard freestyle followed. With multiple swimmers disqualified for false starts, the race came down to only the three most experienced swimmers.
Westfield’s Jim Stinehart (22.63) narrowly defeated Northampton’s Machat (22.87), winning a fourth event for Westfield. Northampton’s Elais Miller handily won the 1 meter diving, with Bombers’ James Wagner, Igor Belokopytov and Richard Jablosnki taking second, third and fourth, respectively.
Westfield’s Matt Jacobson won the 100-yard butterfly. In a rematch of the “50 free”, Stinehart and Machat faced each other again in the two center lanes, with Machat winning by less than a second this time. The 500-yard freestyle was dominated by the Bombers with Kwarcinski winning and Roberto Morales taking second.
Westfield continued to rack up the points, winning the 200-yard freestyle relay with the team of Slav Ptashuk, Stinehart, Monette and Ian Coddington. Matt LaBombard was well-rested by this point in the meet and swam an excellent race to win the 100-yard backstroke. The Bombers capped their victory by winning the 400-yard freestyle relay with the team of LaBombard, Kwarcinski, Jacobson and Tu. – MICHAEL ROWBOTHAM CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT

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